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Alignment through Mediation

May 20, 2022

Nafinia Putra talks about navigating and sustaining growth in high-pressure hypergrowth environments where speed is the measure of success

Success in the hypergrowth world is measured by speed. How fast can you iterate? How fast can you innovate? These challenges are solved by growing the team and ideally simplifying processes, but this also creates a whole new challenge - managing people. Nafinia Putra is no stranger to navigating and sustaining growth in this high-pressure environment.

Nafinia is the Vice President of Marketing at Xendit, a Southeast Asian fintech offering payment, payroll and marketplace solutions to businesses at different scales - from SMEs to established corporations. Nafinia offers insight into what it takes to get regional marketing initiatives off the ground and scale an international marketing team.

Think like a CEO

When organisational priorities and perspectives of decision-makers aren’t in perfect alignment, Nafinia realised along her journey that the answer is to put on the CEO hat. This frame of mind allows you to put personal biases aside and think about the business holistically. Nafinia added, “There should be good alignment across all the different departments or teams so that we know that we are achieving the same thing.“

This mindset has also helped her when faced with challenges of getting buy-in from management. Reflecting on her experience, Nafinia finds that linking marketing initiatives to the company’s overarching goals and bottom line improves her engagement with the C-Suite. Communicating in ways that resonate with senior leadership is a necessary step to getting the flexibility to pursue initiatives nuanced to the evolving business landscape.  

Establish Common Ground

Cross-functional collaboration is a powerful tool that Nafinia has learned to harness. Establishing common ground through shared objectives is foundational, but even though teams aim for the same goals, they may want to pursue different methods. In these situations, there’s potential for conflict. 

To help several teams work as a unit, Nafinia mediates conversations and provides alternative perspectives to find a win-win solution. At Xendit, this is the norm - teams come together to brainstorm when they need to deal with emergent issues.  

The success of this tactic relies heavily on the mediator’s objectivity. This approach can require a mental shift for marketers and business leaders who often are trained to make their case, persuade others and influence outcomes. Having the patience to listen to others articulate their thoughts and the ability to negotiate also contributes to positive outcomes. 

Empower teams by Investing in People and Processes

“The two main pressure points [of scaling a marketing team] would be the cognitive load and the complexity.” There’s a lot of pressure on hypergrowth companies to move faster than everyone else. Keeping pace involves creating new roles, recruiting more people and establishing processes. “This is the common challenge for everyone in the startup scene, and also our early [stage] companies.”

The answer to this, according to Nafinia is: “To be able to succeed in whatever role that you're in happens by empowering the team.” She also adds simple advice for first-time managers: overcommunicate, clarify and delegate. 

Clarity of vision, objectives and expectations gives teams the space to think and act in ways that push the business forward. “Learn how to delegate but always be ready to coach because there might be teams or your subordinates who won't be able to navigate changes and adjustment within the company because of the growth.”

One significant feature of today’s startups is their distributed teams. Talent is undoubtedly rich as businesses now have greater access to expertise but working across vastly different time zones is a challenge. “It's quite difficult for us to sync up with people in the US or with different time zones.” Nafinia employs guidelines for working remotely, considering how the team prefers to coordinate and communicate to create more cohesion. 

Gather Meaningful Customer Insights

Nafinia recognises the value of customer insights, describing it as a factor influencing personal and professional growth. Still, she thinks businesses need to expand the type of information they gather and analyse. “When we say something about getting insights, it's not only quantitative data or quantitative insights. I think this is where the majority of startups and companies are still focusing.” 

“We should focus on qualitative insights.” This is critical information discovered through 1-on-1 engagement with customers. Understanding clients' pain points and challenges shape the solutions to help their businesses grow.

Reflection questions

Hypergrowth businesses inevitably become more complex and scaling up successfully involves keeping large teams tight-knit through shared objectives and interdependent departments. 

  • How are your business unit’s goals aligned to overall business objectives and the initiatives of other departments? 
  • How might you mediate cross-functional interactions for cohesion?
  • What systems do you have in place to gather qualitative insights from clients?

Post-Credits with Nafinia Putra 

Beyond the workplace, Nafinia isn’t just making waves as a woman in tech, but is also passionate about empowering other women to jumpstart their career in tech as well. 

As the Co-Managing Director of the community-based organisation, Girls in Tech Indonesia, she explains, “We aim to bring the gender parity for tech companies. More women, more balance, more inclusivity.” 

Girls in Tech Indonesia started with the vision of creating a community of like-minded women who could support and encourage one another in their home country. It gives its community the ability to interact with people from different backgrounds who desire to see tech evolve. It is important as Nafinia mentions to have an environment to begin tackling the challenges that women face in this industry. 

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